The Kitchen is where people like to enjoy meals and drinks at home, and for those who also like to cook, a well laid-out kitchen with useful and reliable appliance is a necessity. One of the most basic home appliances is the tea kettle.
Kettles are used to heat water while their handles remain cool so that users can immediately hold and pour their hot contents. Even the basic types are good for more than just brewing tea.
Some kettles are better fit for specialized tasks such as brewing pour-over coffee. Others like electric kettles operate without need of stovetops or heating plates, and feature safety and convenience functions which manual types don’t have.
Types of Kettles
Electric kettles don’t require a stovetop or other heating elements. Also known as electric hotpots, they are convenient and have safety features such as auto-shutdown at set temperatures and water levels. A few models can whistle once the water is at boiling, and have adjustable settings to select the best brewing temperatures.
Stove kettles may not be as convenient as electrics, but they offer quick heating for brewing. There are models made of stainless steel, aluminum, safety glass, and copper. These almost always whistle and steam once the water is boiling, a few even signal users with tuneful whistling. As always, a stovetop model should be designed to pour water easily while its handle stay cool to hold while its contents are still boiling hot.
Specialized models like those for pour-brewing offer better handheld control of the water flow, leading to better tea or pour-over coffee as well. They come in electric or stovetop-only versions, and their spouts normally have thin long necks to provide for a slow but consistent flow, letting users pour over the grounds with kind of gentle saturation which is important for making that type of brew.
Automated kettles are tea-making machines capable of automating most tasks such as saturating agitated leaves with hot water, and many feature prompts to the user for producing a fool-proof brew. The machine’s timer start, water temperature, and brew length is programmed long beforehand so that users can later enjoy their tea with little effort expended.
- Fast heating. A faster-heating kettle which heats water to the desired temperature reliable is a huge convenience.
- Adjustable temperature. The best electric or automatic models let users readily and accurately adjust the boiling temperature settings according to the kind of tea being brewed.
- Hot water alert. Most stovetop types naturally whistle and steam once the water is boiling, the cheapest lack this basic feature. Electric models also signal with lights and beeps or clicks when the water is hot.
- Auto shut-off. Most electric kettles have this feature, which eliminates the risk of the kettle getting damaged from the overheating that comes from boiling completely dry.
- Cool operation. Normal kettles can get too hot to handle, and even models with double-wall construction will have warm exteriors from boiling. The best designs have handles which remain cool to hold even when the water has been boiling for some time.
- Easy to pour. A steady and balanced design is easier to hold and pour consistently with, and those designed for pour-over brews feature a long spout which allow good control of the flow.
- Rust resistance. Some steel models can rust and must be emptied of water and dried out after each use, so choose a quality stainless model which will better resist rust.
- Solid build. A standard kettle shows its quality in how well its seams join and its welds meld. Kettle types featuring monolithic construction have few or no failure-prone seams, thus they won’t burst that easily or leak water though assembly joins in their body.
- Wide opening. A larger mouth makes the unit easier to clean and dry, particularly if the diameter is big enough for your hand to pass through and access the kettle’s interior. Drying it out helps prevent rust and keeps the insides from developing a lining which imparts an off-putting taste to the water.
It takes more time to heat larger amounts of water, so for heating enough for only one or a few cups, a smaller model might be more appropriate. Accurate temperature control is more likely for a small kettle boiling a full load of water than for a larger model only partially filled.